What are some good ways to make friends in your early thirties?
May 23, 2023 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Hi. I am in my early thirties and I live in a small kind of city and I only have one friend here and she is going back home to visit her family for the summer and then I will have no friends in my city which saddens me.

I am the academic type but still only a graduate student, so I cannot befriend and hang with all of my professors at my university. I have an acquaintance in Toronto and one friend in Ottawa but it's not the same as in-person kind of hangouts rather than e-mailing them. What are some good ways to meet new people? I am shy and introverted and it takes time for me to meet new people and warm up to. I find it easier to connect with older people as well. I like art events, literature stuff, deep talks, and hiking, but there are not that many events in my city for that. But is attending events a good way to meet people and go up to people? I feel like I don't get out enough and put the effort in, either. Are cafes a good way to meet people as well? I find it so hard to connect with everyone, and I feel like I have to move to a bigger city like Ottawa or Vancouver to make friends because those are good cities for politics and academic life, and the art scene too. I feel quite bummed and down because I don't put myself out there, but I have a hard time connecting with people at times. But honestly, as long as the person is kind and can carry some kind of deep conversation, that is cool by me, but even finding people to hike and stuff...I don't know...I just find it so difficult to get out there and find people to connect with, but I need to put the effort in.
posted by RearWindow to Human Relations (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The key to making friends is regular, sustained contact. It’s why it’s so easy to make friends in school, and why adults tend to make friends at work. Anything you enjoy that is regularly scheduled where the same people show up again and again is a good way to make friends.
posted by rhymedirective at 4:01 PM on May 23 [21 favorites]

Do you have any craft-type hobbies or interest in learning any crafts? I met a few people during graduate school that I'm still close with by attending drop-in knitting groups at a local shop. I find craft-type activities give a really nice balance in terms of interaction with the other people there, because it's easy to just show up, work on your stuff, and just listen in if you're not feeling social, but also really easy for what you're working on to spark conversations if you are. And it being a weekly (monthly, however it's regularly schedule) event means you'll start seeing some of the same people & getting to know them and feel more comfortable.
posted by augustimagination at 4:14 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]

Are you in the part/kind of grad school that involves coursework? I'd try to make friends with people in your classes, if so. If someone seems smart and interesting, chat with them before or after class a few times and then invite them for a coffee or a beer, as long as you can do so without seeming like you're asking them out (unless of course you want to ask them out). Otherwise, take advantage of your University events to meet people--go to talks and chat with other grad students at the receptions afterward, or openings at galleries on campus. If you do this for a while, you'll start to see the same people, and can befriend them in a similar way.
posted by dizziest at 4:48 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Hey, I'm in Vancouver, and did you know that this city is kind of notorious for being clique-ish and difficult to make friends in? You'll make a lot of acquaintances, sure, but people to regularly hang out with, could take years :(

So I don't think it's just a small city/town thing. Not to discourage you.

How did I make friends? I signed up for dance lessons and kept going and going then I started going to the dance socials with my classmates and 3+ yrs later I'm planning trips internationally with these people I met through dance.

My partner moved here from a different country to be with me, and so all their friends were my friends first. But then they started working here and one of their work colleagues started inviting them to play tennis, then video games, then badminton. Next thing it's meeting up for brunch, come meet our cat... That work colleague was just a consistent organizer and kept inviting my partner (and now I, by extension) to different activities.

So basically the same as what others said above: join a group activity, attend consistently, and then be an organizer yourself! And keep trying for at least six months before you decide it's not working and to go do something different.

PS - you mentioned "carry on a deep conversation" as one of your requirements. For most people, it will take a while to get to that level of comfort with each other. So if that's one of the things where you're like, "Well I went on 3 hikes with this person/group and they're all still talking about the weather and their weekend plans, I guess I'll never be friends with these folks!" Give it time... Lots of time! That's kinda why I said six months.
posted by tinydancer at 5:32 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]

knitting class
ceramics class
local chapter of 350.org or climate reality project or another advocacy project local to your city
pull up your city on eventbrite and see if anything looks interesting to you.
coursehorse.com might also be good to check for your city
posted by wowenthusiast at 6:56 PM on May 23

I think someone linked this article on the blue recently -- How to Make Friends by Clare Coffey. Lots of great advice and also beautifully written. I keep it saved for when I need some encouragement.
posted by switcheroo at 7:31 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]

Take a look for volunteer opportunities, on or off campus.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:56 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Find and befriend an extrovert. Every introvert needs at least one in their life to drag them out to things and connect them with other folks.

Also, don't be afraid to go solo to things that interest you. Be open to talking with strangers while you're there. Art events, markets, etc are usually full of people that would love to talk about their special interest
posted by forbiddencabinet at 8:32 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

I made friends in my town by asking people I met who I liked to be my friend and suggesting a specific activity: "I don't have any friends here! I would love to go hiking sometime" etc. Then I wrote down my name & number & a hint for them (like "Emmy Rae, farmers market, xxx-xxx-xxxx). Some people were nice to save face and disappeared after that and others actually became friends.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:40 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Have you tried meetup.com? It's a great way to meet people and make friends. There are meetups for all sorts of types of activities and interests, from hiking meetups to social meetups and everyone is in the same boat — trying to make friends. It's free and easy and, in my experience, everyone is welcoming because they are all in it for the same reason you are. I had a great experience using this a few years back. Give it a try!
posted by fenwaydirtdog at 1:48 AM on May 24

Invite your neighbors over! Part of the reason it’s so easy to make friends in school is because you are close by those people a lot. If you’re communicative with others in your neighborhood, they are close by so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to schedule a hang out with them again soon if you get along.

Try to maintain a few different categories of people you would want to hang out with. This will help provide a sense of where you can build connections with others. Work, neighborhood, hobbies, exercise, and volunteering all provide chances to get to know others.
posted by donut_princess at 3:50 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

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